Article from the Faversham News 1977
 

Marvellous machine makes weird noises

 

DR WHO will never be quite the same again for me...now that I know how the production team create all those weird sounds and Dalek voices.
For they are, as I discovered this week, created by a synthesiser.
To the layman, this is an incredibly complex piece of electronics which can vary considerably in size and in appearance - though many of them look rather like pianos.
   The idea that one of these amazing instruments could be made by a 16-year-old boy seems almost beyond belief.
   But Michael Tillman, who lives in Westgate Road, Faversham, has made one. It took him just a year and eight months.
   Michael, who attends Ethelbert Road School, has been fascinated by electronics ever since his early childhood. While still quite tiny, his mother recalls, he would sit taking plugs apart - and putting them back together successfully.
   As the years went by he graduated to other things..."Just simple things, really, like oscillators and time switches."
   He attends technical college in Canterbury where he is studying electronics in addition to preparing for 'O' Levels and CSE exams at school.
   He wants to be an electronic engineer. But his future career may never involve anything as big as the synthesiser which he completed less than two weeks ago, after working on it from the age of 14.

Mike Tillman at the age of 16 showing off his ETI 4600 wearing his Pink Floyd T-shirt!

 

Michael and his marvellous machine.

 

  Its design is based on something he found in a magazine and he used wiring diagrams to help him in its construction.
   But the diagrams themselves take considerable skill and patients to follow, and to make matters more difficult, Michael found that in some cases, following the diagrams did not achieve the desired result - or simply didn't work - so he improvised.
  The synthesiser's outward simplicity is deceptive.
   For although it has only a four-octave keyboard, it can be electronically controlled to play

 notes that are too low, or high, to be heard.
   In addition to rows of colourful  knobs, the console has a "patchboard" at one end which has 484 switches, all of which gives it infinite versatility.
   It has taken all of Michael's pocket money, Christmas money, and any other cash that came his way, to buy the various components needed.
   In all, it has cost £500 to build. But a similar instrument, if it could be bought, would cost around £1500.
   He has no plans to use it in a group, though some of today's top
  

groups make great use of the synthesiser as a lead instrument and to create various effects.
   Instead he will have great fun experimenting with it and reproducing various sounds.
   And his family has no complaints. He usually plugs in a set of earphones so the sounds it makes are for his ears alone!

 

  Go back to the previous page

Home